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COPYRIGHT UNDERWOOD & UNDERWOOD

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T

THE BAD MAN OF THE

MOVIES

By

HAROLD CARY

HERE is a faraway look in eyes that will become piercing in a moment; for Broncho Billy's pal is ill with fever, and the mercenary medical man refuses to make the dangerous trip into the mountains, without pay in advance, and Broncho Billy has no money.

Yet his friend must be saved. Broncho Billy knows only the law of honor and loyalty to his friend. He determines to get the money where he can; slowly the face, showing the emotions which harrow the mind behind it, settles firmly, and action begins. He holds up and robs a stagecoach, and with the money obtained induces the doctor to come into the mountains and save the friend.

Then comes the tragedy of Billy's simple and loyal friendship. The sheriff busies himself and offers a reward, which tempts the ingrate friend to betray Billy. A posse hastens forth to capture the "outlaw", and a stand is made between the law and the holdup man. The false friend is inside the cabin, and in the pitched battle that follows, a chance bullet kills the ingrate. Billy is thereupon taken and haled away to jail.

This is a typical Broncho Billy story, such as has been displayed in nearly every movie theater in the land. It has no refined subtlety, no deep philosophy to appeal to the imagination and the intellect. And yet it has an appeal that has created a demand for more Broncho

Billy films than for any other subject at outs with the law, but he is right pictured.

What is the secret of this appeal? What is there in this violence and defiance of law, that irresistibly wins the sympathy of a law-abiding and orderly people?

The answer is that this type of story appeals squarely to an obscure but powerful and fundamental trait in the American character. We love Broncho Billy because he appeals to our sense of innate personal justice and loyalty. We all know the mercenary doctor, the base friend; we all love the loyalty that will risk liberty and life for a friend.

Thus everything is with Broncho Billy -but the law-that cold and merciless engine which we all know often is counter to all the best dictates of ethics and love. We thrill to see him cut through this artificial veneer, and get down to the real, simple standards of brotherhood and manhood. We realize that he never does a selfish act, or injures anyone for his own profit-Broncho Billy, while he is a "Bad Man", is not a villain. He is

within; so we sympathize with him, we almost envy him, we pour our amusement money into his lap.

The story of how this trait was discovered and utilized forms a fascinating chapter in the story of industry. It is the American story of the unknown man, who by dint of energy, perseverance, and hard work, and the strength of his great idea, won a fortune for himself and launched a new business. It is the story of how human nature loves to have its secret impulses given expression by someone, and how liberally it will reward the man who does so.

The unknown man in this case is a millionaire of Niles, California-G. M. Anderson, the A of the Essanay Company (the name having been fancifully derived from pronouncing together the letters S and A, with the connecting word "and" between), producers of motion pictures with the Indian head trade mark. But obscure as this millionaire may be as himself, he is more widely known than was ever Jesse James or Nick Carter;

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for in his other guise, as Broncho Billy the Westerner, the outlaw, he is perhaps the most popular man in film-land today. He it is who practically discovered the Wild West film as we know it and like it.

The stage and the West have been Broncho Billy's from childhood. His family, native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and St. Louis, was one of actors; and from youth he was conversant with the legitimate stage and the "Wild West" show. He also knew the West itself, for when still in his teens, he dropped the stage, struck out for a ranch, and spent a considerable period earning his living on a horse.

But the St. Louis youngster found comparatively little in the West of the day, picturesque as it might have been, after the novelty had worn off. Accordingly, he drifted back to the stage, taking small parts with a traveling company,

and in 1899 he was with the Castle Square Opera Company doing double duty as a principal and as a chorus man.

Then the moving picture, just beginning its golden career, interested the future Broncho Billy and he took an occasional part for Selig, one of the pioneers. From this he was graduated into the position of producer. While he was serving in this capacity, the big idea forced itself upon him. He remembered his West, and he believed the public would appreciate it as he knew it and could picture it.

He needed fifteen thousand dollars to "put over" his idea. No more would be necessary, because that sum would either be the foundation of a fortune, or else the losing of it would prove the idea worthless.

But capital was elusive. Man after man laughed at the "big idea". Movies

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